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Dec 20, 2010 at 11:40am IST

Pesticide poisons Kazargode: will govt act?

The aerial spraying of Endosulfan over plantations in Kazargode in Kerala for more than two decades has not only crippled many lives but also wiped out local wildlife.

As the cry for a ban on endosulfan gets louder, National Human Rights Commission Chairman KG Balakrishnan is expected to visit Kasargod to take stock of the situation.

Exposure to the deadly pesticide Endosulfan made kasargod’s Mohammad Shaji bedridden and completely dependent on his mother.

"The Government representatives came and enquired. I told them that he walking till Endosulfan was sprayed aerially. His condition is worsening. We have not got received help so far,” said Shaji’s mother B Fathima.

Sheelappan, a plantation worker is yet another victim of the deadly chemical.

“I collapsed one day when I was working in the plantation. My one side became paralyzed. We went to many doctors spending lot of money. I don't want to live like this anymore."

Endosulfan was used extensively starting 1976 when the Kerala Plantation Corporation started spraying it aerially. In 2001, it was banned temporarily and in 2003 completely by the Kerala state. By then it was too late. Studies have documented that people exposed to it fell prey to neurological disorders, skin and respiratory ailments.

"What I understand is that giving them a solarium does not help much. The government has to be committed to looking after a victim throughout his life. Some of them are bed ridden,” said the former chairman of the Kerala Bio-diversity board V K Vijayan.

But the Environment Ministry has remained non-committal on an immediate action.

“I have to discuss this with the Agriculture Ministry as well and let's see... as of now we shouldn't forget that Endosulfan remains banned in kerala,” said Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

Official figures indicate about 3000 people in Kazargode were affected, but according to independent data the number is closer to 8000. About 500 people have died. But existing relief packages are too small and have come too late.

The National Human Rights Comission is set to visit Kazargode to assess the situation. But the people of Kazargode want the government to come out with a concrete action plan to support them in their battle for survival.

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